According to a study group in Lohr, Bavaria, Snow White is based on Maria Sophia von Erthal, born on 15 June, 1729 in Lohr am Main, Bavaria. She was the daughter of 18 th century landowner, Prince Philipp Christoph von Erthal and his wife, Baroness von Bettendorff.
After the death of the Baroness, Prince Philipp went onto marry Claudia Elisabeth Maria von Venningen, Countess of Reichenstein, who was said to dislike her stepchildren. The castle where they lived, now a museum, was home to a ‘talking mirror’, an acoustical toy that could speak (now housed in the Spessart Museum). The mirror, constructed in 1720 by the Mirror Manufacture of the Electorate of Mainz in Lohr, had been in the house during the time that Maria’s stepmother lived there.
The dwarfs in Maria’s story are also linked to a mining town, Bieber, located just west of Lohr and set among seven mountains. The smallest tunnels could only be accessed by very short miners, who often wore bright hoods, as the dwarfs have frequently been depicted over the years.
The Lohr study group maintain that the glass coffin may be linked to the region’s famous glassworks, while the poisoned apple, may be associated with the deadly nightshade poison that grows in abundance in Lohr.
A German historian has also postulated that it may be the true story of Margarete VonWaldeck. (via ancient origins.net/myths)
According to Sander, the character of Snow White was based on the life of Margarete von Waldeck, a German countess born to Philip IV in 1533. At the age of 16, Margarete was forced by her stepmother, Katharina of Hatzfeld to move away to Wildungen in Brussels. There, Margarete fell in love with a prince who would later become Phillip II of Spain.
Margarete’s father and stepmother disapproved of the relationship as it was ‘politically inconvenient’. Margarete mysteriously died at the age of 21, apparently having been poisoned. Historical accounts point to the King of Spain, who opposing the romance, may have dispatched Spanish agents to murder Margarete.
So what about the seven dwarfs? Margarete’s father owned several copper mines that employed children as quasi-slaves. The poor conditions caused many to die at a young age, but those that survived had severely stunted growth and deformed limbs from malnutrition and the hard physical labour. As a result, they were often referred to as the ‘poor dwarfs’.
Whether true or not, the story has persisted into modern times thanks to Walt Disney and his 1937 classic telling of the tale. I’ve included the artwork done by Franz Juttner, a German artist, in 1905 for the Sneewittchen book pictured above.
Sleeping Beauty is an old fairy tale that has had many incarnations. One of the best known, is this version by the prolific Children’s Book Illustrator, Walter Crane. Crane is an interesting artist who studied under William Morris, one of the founders and great artists of the Arts and Crafts movement. Crane is known for some fine art pieces, but his contributions to the nursery book arts are legendary, during its heyday at the end of the 1800’s and early 1900’s. This edition also has Bluebeard’s Story and Baby’s Own Alphabet. I’ve included all the plates for Sleeping Beauty, but only the first plates of the other 2 stories. The last plate of Sleeping Beauty is my favourite – I think she looks rather stunned to find herself so suddenly awake and rapidly married. If you’re interested you can see the entire book at the Internet Archive, where you can always read the whole book.
The digital scans of this book contain a bit of extra love. Many of the pages have been hand-coloured in crayon to add a flourish to the original drawings, and I find them utterly charming. My favourite is page 19 with the elephant up a tree. The artwork is Victorian in flavour and the story itself is sweet and well told. I’ve included the first page that is without artwork because the opening sentence is delightful and sets the tone for all that follows. You’ll find all of the full-sized plates below the fold. Enjoy.
I was a cat person long before I was a dog person and it’s still cat week (which I didn’t announce) so this seems like a good fairy tale choice. The book is interesting because it contains artwork from 2 different sources. The frontispiece and title story The Cat and The Mouse are illustrated by an unnamed traditional Persian artist and the remainder of the book is illustrated by John R. Neill, who is famously known for illustrating the stories of Oz.
The artwork in this week’s fairy tale book is typical of the Victorian period. I’m not especially fond of this style of art, but I think this book is interesting because its fairies look a lot like like cherubs. I also think the eyes of the children in the book look dull and creepy which is an unexpected bit of a laugh in a children’s fairy story book.
I’m overdue for highlighting Finnish Fairy Tales so our book this week contains a wealth of old Finnish folk stories translated for an English-speaking audience. Illustrator Jay Van Everen breathes life into the stories using graphic, modern drawings with geometric and abstract elements. There is only 1 colour plate in Mighty Mikko, but Van Everen was best known for his bright, colourful abstract paintings. Nonetheless, Van Everen’s black and white drawings for Mighty Mikko are bold and full of interest. The artist uses 2 different styles of illustration in the book – one for the first half of traditional tales and another for the second half of the book which contains the continuing saga of Mikko. Both styles are interesting and worth a good look so I’m going to break this post into 2 parts. Part 2 will be posted next Saturday.
This Fairy Tale Saturday we’re looking at Nathaniel Hawthorne’s Tanglewood Tales again. We’ve already looked at the 1921 edition of the book with artwork by Virginia Sterrett and today we’re looking at an earlier edition with artwork done by Edmund Dulac. Dulac was a master illustrator of books during the art nouveau period and he is considered to be one of the masters of the style.
Will Bradley was considered the “Dean of American Designers” during the Art Nouveau and Art Deco Periods and he was the best paid American artist of the early 20th Century. Much of Bradley’s work was for magazine covers, advertising and posters, but his illustrations for this book, Fringilla, were considered to be among his masterworks. All the full-sized illustrations are below the fold.
It’s Fairy Tale Saturday and this week our book tells tales from the country of Korea. The author, William Griffis, lived and taught in Japan for many years and wrote many serious books on Japan and Japanese Culture. Mr. Griffis was brought to Japan in 1870 to assist in the modernization of Japanese Schools. He became a respected educator and author within Japan and was twice honored with the Order of the Rising Sun – in 1907 with the Gold Rays with Rosette and in 1926 with the higher honor of Gold Rays with Neck Ribbon.
I really enjoyed Pasakas, the Latvian book of fairy tales sent in by rq, so I thought I’d check out some other foreign tales. There are a myriad of Swedish fairy tale books, but this edition caught my eye. In the preface to the book the author tells us that,
There has been no attempt to “rewrite” these charming folk-and fairy-tales in the translation. They have been faithfully narrated in the simple, naive manner which their traditional rendering demands.
The tales might be traditional, but the artwork isn’t. The cover art and interior plates are all rendered in soft, flowing watercolors more typical of the art nouveau period than the Medieval period. Enjoy! [Read more…]